News


Deborah Grossman named city's 6th poet laureate

Pleasanton writer to serve two years in post aimed at promoting literary arts in community

Deborah Grossman, a published author, feature writer and long-time Tri-Valley poet, was appointed Tuesday night as Pleasanton's poet laureate for a two-year term through 2011.

She succeeds the city's current poet laureate Martha Meltzer, who won recognition by the City Council for her two years of service to Pleasanton and applause from a council chamber filled with members of the Tri-Valley arts and writers community. They included former poet laureates and those serving in that position for the cities of Dublin and Livermore.

Grossman becomes the city's sixth poet laureate. The position was established in November, 1998 "to provide appropriate poetry at civic events and promote the appreciation of the literary arts in the community," according to a statement by Susan Andrade-Wax, director of parks and community services, that was read at Tuesday's council meeting.

Previous poet laureates, in addition to Meltzer, were Charlene Villella, Jim Ott, Kirk Ridgeway and Cynthia Bryant.

A poet, independent writer and editor, Grossman is the author of "Goldie and Me," a book about freedom, family and friendship through the lens of poetry. She holds numerous awards for poetry and has contributed articles to the Wine Enthusiast, San Francisco Chronicle, Napa Sonoma magazine, the Pleasanton Weekly and other publications. She was a columnist for Diablo Magazine from 2003 to 2008.

Grossman was chosen by a Poet Laureate selection committee formed by the Pleasanton Civic Arts Commission that reviewed applicants for the position, which is unpaid.

Members of the selection committee were Toby Bielawski, Las Positas College; Kathy Cordova, co-host of "In a Word" on TV30; Julie Farnsworth, Pleasanton librarian; Athena Lathos, a non-academic poet; John Loll, Civic Arts Commission; Emily West, Features Editor for the Pleasanton Weekly; Judy Wheeler, owner of Towne Center Books and president of the Pleasanton Downtown Association' David Wright, Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council; and David Young, Pleasanton school district.

The interview process was led by Susan Groshans, co-producer of the Pleasanton Poetry, Prose and Arts Festival and a columnist for the Contra Costa Times.

In accepting the poet laureate position, Grossman read a poem about the city's Firehouse Arts Center that is now under construction on Railroad Avenue:

Ode to a Bell

You were just a bell, they said,

a bell which swings back and forth

and rings and rings for us.

Men clambered

into yellow boots

hurrying to your beat.

Our mothers and fathers

heard your mighty song

and watched heroes face fire.

With gratitude

they farmed and traded and thrived.

But hopyards ceded to asphalt

horses to barn,

train whistles to silence.

You nearly succumbed

as sirens wailed up Main.

Until the Muses

moseyed into town

to light new fire.

Now boots stomp and dance

Voices chime in song, poetry and tales

teens fall into stage love.

Artists bend to draw a bell,

just a bell, they say,

which swings back and forth

and rings and rings for us.

~ Deborah Grossman ©

poet laureate,deborah grossman

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Castlewood
on Jun 17, 2009 at 9:35 am

Congratulations! I hope you appoint two teen poets as well. Last years girls- Sarah Yorke from Amador and Athena Lathos from Foothill were wonderful!


Like this comment
Posted by laura
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 17, 2009 at 12:16 pm

If this is a paid position, what is the salary of this Poet Laureate?


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Can only be better than our last laureate. Am I the only one who thought her poems were pathetic ?


Like this comment
Posted by Richard
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 17, 2009 at 1:51 pm

To Joe,

How awful to make such a comment regarding the last laureate, who by the way, was wonderful. Yes, poetry, as in other forms of art, is subjective. Your comment however, was, extremely uncaring from a human perspective.


Like this comment
Posted by Richard
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 17, 2009 at 1:58 pm

It states in the article that this is an unpaid position.


Like this comment
Posted by Minerva Bennett
a resident of Valley Trails
on Jun 17, 2009 at 2:09 pm

To Joe as well,
While it is appropriate to voice one's opinion about the arts, the rude manner in which you did so was both impolite and unjustified. I only hope you can acquire the propriety and subjectivity to view poetry in the future.


Like this comment
Posted by Emily West
Pleasanton Weekly staff reporter
on Jun 17, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Emily West is a registered user.

The position is not paid. This is from the city council packet from last night:

The City Poet Laureate receives no remuneration. Any expenses related to the Poet Laureate program, i.e. supplies for workshops, poetry readings, etc., are allocated within the Parks and Community Services Department's operating budget, and total approximately $2,000.


Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 18, 2009 at 9:46 am

I don't find Joe's comments offensive. Get a life critics!

It's called FREE SPEECH!


Like this comment
Posted by Salsa
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 18, 2009 at 12:47 pm

We pay a very high price for FREE SPEECH in this great country of ours. Part of our contribution is the ability to serve our communities freely and with passion. I doubt if those that are critizing our past Poet Laureate have ever contributed their time or money for the sake of our community. We believe in tolorance of those that express their oppinions, even if they are mean spirited and senseless.
Although you are entitled to express yourself, please do it in a civil and polite manner.
Salsa


Like this comment
Posted by Defending Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2009 at 1:54 pm

I know absolutely nothing about the previous poet laureate. But, Richard and Minerva need to allow Joe his opinion about poetry. He said her "poems were pathetic". He was (seemingly) careful to separate the person from the object (poems), which is what this excessively sensitive society tries to preach.


Like this comment
Posted by Chris
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 18, 2009 at 9:03 pm

To Joe;
Free Speech or not, what literary expertise do you have to make that evaluation? Are you some sort of a literary expert? Even if you do have some phd in literature, what exactly were you trying to accomplish in your post. Are you just one of those people who like to say mean things? Would you rather leave behind kindess in the world or bitterness and ugliness? Certainly I can see what kind of world you come from. So maybe you are the only who is pathetic.


Like this comment
Posted by Remember
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2009 at 9:19 pm

This was a previous post/thread

I also hope the new poet produces better work...

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 18, 2009 at 9:47 pm

get lost crissy...you forgot to make your offensive crack sign off..."god bless"...I thought you said you were going to Africa to help fight AIDS...hmmmmmmmmmmm...what some posters say for sympathy....sad.


Like this comment
Posted by Chris
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 18, 2009 at 10:06 pm

To Cholo:
Not sure what you mean. This has nothing to do with religion or Africa. It has to do with kindness. Sad, yes, sad.


Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 19, 2009 at 3:42 pm

I recommend claudie as the new poet on canvas...Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Cereful
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Joe is entitled to dislike her poems and he is entitled to voice his opinion too. He did not criticize the person but her poems. If he said the same words about a politician nobody would blink an eye lid in protest. Poetry is subjective and he didn't like her poems and he is entitled to say so.

If anyone else wrote those exact same poems and had no "experience" in poetry, everybody would say it is weak poetry but because it comes from a "laureate" everybody believes it must be good.

To Salsa, what has contributing to the community got to do with voicing an opinion ? Does one have to give time or money to voice an opinion ?

I support Joe's right to free speech !!!


Like this comment
Posted by Sharon Ward
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jun 22, 2009 at 1:40 pm

For all of us, Freedom of Speech is our right. One can say "I didn't care for the former poet laureate’s poetry", and express an opinion w/o it ringing of heartlessness. Diplomacy, thoughtfulness and compassion for other human beings...these are learned behaviors.

Martha worked extremely hard setting up events, hauling supplies and refreshments and giving up much of her free time to fulfill her job as Pleasanton’s Poet Laureate over the last 2 years. Many thanks to you Martha!

Sharon Ward


Like this comment
Posted by RILKA
a resident of Danville
on Jun 26, 2009 at 8:13 pm

IT IS GOING TO BE MORE & MORE DIFFICULT TO FIND A POET LAUREATE FOR PLEASANTON & ALL THE OTHER CITIES THAT HAVE FOUNDED SUCH A POST. THIS IS AN UNPAID POSITION WHICH REQUIRES ABOVE AVERAGE ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS, AS WELL AS AN AWARENESS OF THE MODERN WORLD OF POETRY & POETS, & MORE THAN ADEQUATE SKILLS IN WRITING POETRY.

HOW MANY SUCH PEOPLE CAN THERE BE IN A TOWN THE SIZE OF PLEASANTON?

ANYONE WHO IS A NATIONALY KNOWN POET WILL NOT HAVE TIME TO DO SUCH A JOB.

YOU HAVE NOT YET HAD TO APPOINT A "MOON, JUNE, TUNE, SPOON" TYPE POET, BUT THE TIME WILL COME WHEN THESE EARNEST WRITERS
WILL BE IN THE GREATER PART OF THE POOL OF CANDIDATES.

IN MY OPINION, ANYONE WHO WRITES POEMS TO ORDER ABOUT CIVIC EVENTS HAS A PARTICULAR GIFT, & ANYONE WHO CRITICIZES SHOULD TRY IT FIRST.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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